12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to Kearl Lake oilsands facility

Company officials confirmed Thursday there are 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to the Kearl Lake oilsands facility north of Fort McMurray.

There are two active COVID-19 cases on site and 10 workers who tested positive for the virus are off site, according to an emailed statement from Simon Younger, vice-president of production for Imperial, which jointly owns the facility with ExxonMobil Canada. 

“We are taking this situation very seriously,” Younger told CBC News. “We have completed contact tracing for all of these individuals and have asked additional members of our workforce to self-isolate while further testing is underway.”

The Kearl Lake facility is about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

Younger said the company is working with the provincial government and Alberta Health Services to “manage this issue.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said Thursday that provincial health authorities continue to monitor the outbreak.

“I would like to stress to Albertans that everything that needs to be done to keep people safe in Kearl and other camps, and food processing facilities like Cargill, is being done,” Hinshaw said.

‘Stringent measures’ in place: Imperial

Younger said several measures have been in place since March to protect workers, including a pre-travel screening questionnaire and temperature screening at flight centres in Edmonton and Calgary, and daily temperature readings of workers prior to starting work. 

The company has also set up an isolation wing onsite.

“Our team at Kearl is working to ensure Albertans and all Canadians receive the energy resources they need, safely, both during and after this unprecedented time,” Younger said. “First and foremost, our focus remains on the health and safety of our workforce, their families and our communities.”

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